Now, Martin sees himself in the mold of Ray Allen, who starred for years as the go-to man for a mediocre Seattle SuperSonics team. Ironically, it was Thunder general manager Sam Presti who shipped Allen to Boston and helped him win a title alongside Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Before the Martin gets his own magical ending he must first learn to adapt. That means learning to succeed (and be satisfied) in a secondary role, a role Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Monday will start with Martin coming off the bench.
Martin insists he doesn't mind.
“You want to sacrifice things for wins,” Martin said. “I've been wanting to be in a situation like this for a long time instead of putting up numbers and being done playing in April … So I'm ready to sacrifice whatever they want me to.”
Martin will have to excuse Thunder fans for skepticism toward the word sacrifice right now. The last guy who swore by it was a fan favorite who just high-tailed it to Houston for a truckload of money. The difference here, though, is Martin has tasted life as “The Man” and knows now what an empty existence that can be when you're losing.
Martin said it was “probably in year five” when he grew tired of putting up numbers without winning. His first two seasons saw him play limited minutes but make the playoffs both seasons. In the subsequent three seasons, Martin's Kings went 33-49, 38-44 and 17-65, a .357 winning percentage.
Next to Durant and Westbrook, however, Martin now has a shot at defining his career with something greater than scoring. Before trading places with Harden, Martin said his best two teammates were Ron Artest and Brad Miller.
“But I've never played with such a great group,” Martin said of the Thunder.
Brooks, who coached Martin in Sacramento and knows him “personally,” said he doesn't envision any problems with Martin accepting his role and fitting in.
“I tell this to all of our guys,” Brooks said. “In order to be on a good team, you have to sacrifice — everybody.”
Martin seems more than willing. That much was clear in the message-sending “now” from his very first public statement as a member of the Thunder.
“Kevin is going to come in here and be a guy that's all about the team,” said Durant. “But he's going to put some points on the board as well.”